Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Smokey Cauliflower Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano

Fall weather has hit northern New Mexico big time. The past few days have been beautiful with temperatures in the mid to high 70s during the afternoons. But...the nights. Oh, the nights. I woke up this morning to 34 degrees. So when Food Network assigned us cauliflower for this week's Fall Fest roundup, I immediately thought of soup.

I love this recipe. Creamy cauliflower blended with sauteed leeks, garlic, chipotle chiles and smoked paprika for a bit of heat & smoke, perfect for lunch or an easy dinner paired with salad and good bread. Just what I want when the nights are chilly. I keep it light with vegetable or chicken stock and nut milk (almond or coconut) instead of heavy cream. There is just a touch of Parmigiano-Reggiano for flavor and richness without adding a ton of calories. Delicious, healthy, spicy... It just doesn't get better than that. Enjoy the soup!

Smokey Cauliflower Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 main dish servings

extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 chipotle chili pepper, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
4 cups (approx) organic vegetable or chicken stock (or homemade)
1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup almond or coconut milk
sea salt
black pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions or chives

In a large stockpot, saute leek and celery in 2 tbsp olive oil until softened. (about 6 minutes over medium-high heat) Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add cauliflower, chipotle, paprika and small pinch each salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add enough stock to cover vegetables. (you may not need all 4 cups). Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree soup until very smooth. (Alternatively, you can process in batches in a processor or blender but be careful as the soup is very hot). Stir in the cheese and milk and continue cooking until cheese is melted. (about 5 minutes). Add additional stock or milk if soup is too thick. 

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve in large bowls topped with a drizzle of best quality extra virgin olive oil, additional shredded cheese and a sprinkling of chives.

Additional cauliflower recipes you may enjoy:

It is "Cauliflowerweek at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite cauliflower recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. Bloggers' recipes will be posted at noon on Thursday.


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Apple & Chocolate Cake

Happy Fall everyone! Can you believe summer is over? It has been rainy and cool the past couple of months so it has not felt much like summer in Taos. (But the rains have been amazing helping to end our drought. Now we need the rains to move to Napa!) I was at the beautiful farmers' market in Santa Fe, New Mexico last weekend and, while there were tons of end-of-summer produce like tomatoes, zucchini, corn, berries, peaches and peppers, many vendors had bushels of apples ready for sale.

Apples always remind me of fall. The scent of them baking in the oven, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg is home to me so it is the perfect item to kick off this year's Food Network's Fall Fest. The schedule is as follows:

25: Apples

2: Cauliflower
9: Pumpkin
16: Roasted Garlic
23: Slow-Cooker-themed 
30: Halloween-themed

6: Brussels sprouts
13: Carrots
20: Favorite Thanksgiving side

4: Holiday cookies
11: Holiday-themed beverage 
18: Holiday side dish 

My apple submission? How about Apple & Chocolate Cake?"  Inspired by a cake in the Moosewood Restaurant Book-Desserts, their version first introduced me to the concept of using vinegar and oil in a cake instead of butter and eggs. Thank you Moosewood!  This cake is also delicious without the apples..a bit lighter and more "cakey". The apples make it dense, moist and really fudgy so you have options depending on what type of cake you want. Try both versions (exact same recipe...just leave out the apple) and please let me know what you think. I have also made this cake using figs, zucchini and pears in place of the apples. As you can tell, I love this recipe. Hope you give it a try. Please tell me what you think in the comments section at the end of this post.

Apple & Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups organic unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup organic white sugar (or coconut sugar)
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup best quality unsweetened premium cocoa powder (I like Scharffen Berger)
1 Tsp kosher salt
2 Tsp baking powder
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp pure balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded apple (I use a box grater or food processor with the shred disk)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan using extra virgin olive oil. Add the first 6 ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix. Add rest of ingredients and stir, using the paddle attachment, until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 45 min to 1 hour. Test for doneness by sticking a skewer, chopstick or knife into the center of the cake. If your tester is clean when you remove, the cake is ready. Rest on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert onto cake plate and allow to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. (This is also delicious with a chocolate glaze drizzled over the cake and served with ice cream or fresh fruit.) 

It is "Apple" week at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite apple recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.
The Lemon Bowl: Rainbow Chopped Salad with Apples and Avocados
Weelicious: Apple Butter Turnovers
The Cultural Dish: Apple Crostata
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Apple and Chocolate Cake
Red or Green: Spiced Applesauce
Virtually Homemade: Apple Almond Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Caramel Apple Cake
Devour: A Week of Apple Recipes
Taste With The Eyes: Bleu Waldorf Petrale Sole
FN Dish: Celebrate Apples with Crisps, Crumbles and Cobblers


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Triple Onion Dip with Caramelized Walla Wallas

This is the onion dip to top all onion dips. No packaged soup mix here. Imagine slow roasted caramelized sweet Walla Walla onions combined with crunchy green onions and organic dried minced onions all stirred into sour cream and mayonnaise. The fresh vegetables and herbs really make the difference. So, so good.

Of course, this dip is perfect with chips, pretzels or vegetables, but I also like to use as a sandwich spread with roast beef...or as a topping for roast chicken. Try stirred into mashed potatoes...as a dip for french fries or spooned on baked potatoes (Hmm, kind of a potato theme going on here). Keep this in mind for your next party or family get-together (Sunday afternoon football watching anyone?) Enjoy!

Triple Onion Dip with Caramelized Walla Wallas
(makes 2 1/2 cups)

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small Walla Walla or other sweet onion, chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp organic dried minced onion
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 tsp paprika
sea salt
black pepper

Add the butter and olive oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium flame until butter is melted. Add sweet onion and stir to coat. Cook the onions for 35 to 40 minutes or until they are golden brown, stirring frequently. Add balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking until liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl stir together the sour cream and mayonnaise until combined. Stir in the green onion, dried onion, parsley and a pinch each salt and pepper. Stir in the caramelized onions. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Spoon into a clean bowl and sprinkle paprika over top. 

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It is "Dip" week at Food#Summer Soiree roundup. Do you have a favorite dip recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Cincinnati Chili Refried Bean Cheese Dip
The Lemon Bowl: Lebanese Garlic Sauce
Weelicious: Romesco
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Triple Onion Dip with Caramelized Walla Wallas
Red or Green: Roasted Peppers, Chiles and Eggplant Dip
Taste With The Eyes: Cocktail Nibbles Inspired by James Beard Virtually Homemade: Double-Chocolate Yogurt Dip
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 5 Favorite Dips
Domesticate Me: Chipotle Hummus with Chili-Lime Pita Chips
Devour: 6 Dips to Make in a Dash
FN Dish: Towering Layer Dips

napa farmhouse 1885
California Girl in Taos

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Avocado & Grilled Shrimp Salad

Perfect for lunch or a light dinner, this salad is fast, fresh and delicious. Fresh shrimp marinated in a lime vinaigrette then grilled and added to a salad piled high with buttery avocado, spicy arugula and sweet red onion. This dish is also nice stuffed into warm corn tortillas for tacos or layered onto fresh, toasted french or sourdough rolls for a wonderful seafood sandwich. Enjoy!

Avocado & Grilled Shrimp Salad
(serves 4 as a main dish)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp coconut sugar
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

In a medium bowl, add olive oil, lime juice, mustard, sugar and a pinch each salt and pepper. Whisk together until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

2 lbs uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 avocados, pitted and chopped (click here for technique)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 heirloom tomato, chopped
4 cups baby arugula
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/8 cup mint, chopped
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp paprika

Add shrimp to medium bowl of vinaigrette. Stir to combine. Cover and let marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat grill (or grill pan if cooking indoors) until hot. Remove shrimp from marinade. Grill until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from grill and set aside.

Meanwhile add avocado, onion, tomato, arugula, basil and mint to large bowl. Add 2 tbsp reserved vinaigrette and a pinch each salt and pepper. Toss. Add cooked shrimp and toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Add additional vinaigrette if desired. Sprinkle paprika over top and serve.

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Other avocado recipes you may enjoy:

It is "Avocado" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup. Do you have a favorite avocado recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Coconut Kale Salad with Avocado and Pickled Vegetables
Weelicious: Avocado Honey Dip
Devour: Why You Should Eat Avocados All Day Long
Dishing With Divya: Vietnamese Avocado Milkshake
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Avocado and Grilled Shrimp Salad
Red or Green: Spicy Avocado Spread Sandwich
Taste With The Eyes: Tortilla Soup with Lobster and Avocado Virtually Homemade: Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
Domesticate Me: Superfood Chocolate Avocado Pudding (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: Go Beyond Guacamole (Avocado Recipes)

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Heirloom Tomatoes & Two Rice Salad

photo from the Napa Register
On Sunday, August 24th at 3:20 am, a very large (6.0) earthquake struck the Napa Valley of California with most of the damage occurring in the old, historic part of town. I am heartbroken to see the images of some of my favorite buildings "red tagged" and literally shaken off their foundations with roofs collapsed, walls crumbled and windows blown out. My facebook feed is filled with photos of my friends' homes and businesses and wineries in shambles. Picture the interior of your house. Now imagine someone picking it up, shaking it like mad, and then setting it back down. Everything fallen off the walls, dropped out of cupboards, broken glass and plates and heirlooms everywhere. No power...gas off because of the potential for leaks, no running water. That was downtown Napa this weekend.  But Napans are strong and resilient. My heart was full hearing all the stories of neighbors helping neighbors. I am so happy to report that Napa Farmhouse 1885 is doing just fine...so, if you want to help, visit Napa...eat...drink some wine...shop. Enjoy. (and if you can't visit, shop a website from a Napa store or winery.) #Napa Strong!

Now, on to the food! It is Labor Day weekend. (Where did the summer go?) I love the combination of these two salads. Perfect in-season August tomatoes with garlic and a handful of fresh herbs paired with a tangy, lemony wild rice and sprouted brown rice salad full of edamame, cashews and more herbs. This dish is hearty enough to serve as a main course but is delicious with grilled chicken, steak or fish. Added bonus the salad stays fresh for a couple of days so the leftovers make a wonderful lunch.  Have a happy and restful Labor Day everyone..especially Napans!

Heirloom Tomatoes & Two Rice Salad
(serves 10)

Heirloom Tomato Salad
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
coarse sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
2 pints yellow and red cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup basil, torn
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

Using the flat side of a chef's knife, smash the garlic. Add a large pinch of sea salt and continue smashing until a paste forms. Scrape the garlic paste into a medium sized bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Add a Tsp pepper. Stir in the tomatoes and allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. Add the herbs and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Two Rice Salad
3 cups vegetable broth or water
(1 Tsp sea salt if using water)
1 cup wild rice

3 cups water
2 cups organic sprouted brown rice*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 Tbsp Meyer lemon zest1 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
3/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 cup edamame fresh or frozen. (if frozen, allow to thaw and follow package directions)
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/8 cup chopped dill
1/2 cup toasted whole seasoned cashews (I bought a
sea salt
black pepper

Wash uncooked wild rice. Place broth or water in a heavy saucepan and, if using water, add 1 Tsp kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Add wild rice and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 50-60 minutes or just until kernels puff open. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Replace the cover and set aside (off heat) until ready to use in the recipe.

Combine brown rice and water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook 40 - 45 minutes until rice is tender and water has evaporated.  Fluff with fork and transfer to a large bowl.  Allow to cool. Set aside.

In the bottom of a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and soy sauce. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Stir in the wild and brown rice, green onions, edamame, all the herbs and stir to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld. Stir in the cashews right before serving.

Mound both salads side by side on a large platter. Garnish with additional herbs if desired.

* I found sprouted brown rice in the grains bins at my local gourmet/health food store.  If you can't find it locally there are many sources available online

It is "Labor Day Recipes" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup. Do you have a favorite Labor Day recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Hot Crab Dip with Jalapenos and Scallions
The Heritage Cook: Four Sauces Designed for Grilled Foods (Gluten-Free)
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Grilled Brined Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Dishing with Divya: Baked Vegetable Sacks
Virtually Homemade: Roasted Summer Vegetables with Lemon Tahini Dressing
Weelicious: Heirloom Tomato Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Peach and Blueberry Baked Fruit Pizza
Devour: Cooking Channel's Ultimate Labor Day Party Menu
Dishin & Dishes: Grilled Chicken with Board Sauce
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Heirloom Tomatoes and Two Rice Salad
Domesticate Me: 10 Fabulous Summer Recipes for Labor Day
Taste With The Eyes: "End of Summer Rolls" Caprese-Style
FN Dish: Day-Off Desserts for Labor Day


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

BBQ Pork Ribs

So, it is the middle of August.  The perfect time to invite a bunch of friends for a barbecue. Ribs, coleslaw, potato salad, corn on the cob and plum cobbler create a delicious menu that everyone will love. Best of all everything except the ribs and corn can be made ahead of time so you can enjoy the party while manning the grill. Add some cold beer or margaritas and party on!

I discovered this recipe for BBQ ribs a few years ago at Saveur Magazine and it has been my go-to version ever since. I have made very minor tweaks like subbing coconut sugar for brown and white sugar, adding Dijon mustard to the sauce and using fresh garlic instead of powder. And I wrap the cooked ribs in foil and a kitchen towel and let them rest for 2 hours before serving. I have been cautioned by a BBQ expert to NEVER skip this step to ensure tender, juicy, perfect ribs. Other than those minor edits...this is Saveur's recipe.

Happy Mid-Summer everyone...you should throw a party!

BBQ Pork Ribs 
(from Saveur)
serves 4-6

Rub Recipe

1 cup coconut sugar
½ cup paprika
3 Tbsp. ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tsp. cayenne pepper
2 racks St. Louis-cut pork spareribs (about 3 lb. each; see Barbecue 101. »)
Mix the sugar, paprika, pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic and onion powders, and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub onto all sides of ribs. Place ribs on foil-lined rimmed baking sheets. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. 
BBQ Sauce Recipe
2 cups organic ketchup
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup coconut sugar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1½ Tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ Tsp. celery seeds
1½ Tsp. minced garlic
1½ Tsp. ground cumin
¼ Tsp. fresh lemon juice

In a bowl, whisk together ketchup, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, celery, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and lemon juice; set aside. 

Prepare your grill using the kettle grillbullet smoker, or gas grill method, (see links for instructions) using oak wood chunks or chips (see Fuel and Flavor). Place ribs, meat side up, on a grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-250° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature; see instructions), cook, turning once and basting with sauce the last 45 minutes of cooking, until the tip of a small knife slips easily in and out of the meat, 3–4 hours. Remove from grill, wrap in aluminum foil, wrap the foil packets with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 2 hours. Serve ribs with remaining sauce on the side.

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It is "BBQ" week at Food Network #Summer Soiree roundup. Do you have a favorite BBQ recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.  
The Lemon Bowl: Tart Cherry Chinese BBQ Pulled Pork
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Lebanese Tomato Salsa
Weelicious: Southern-Style Pork Tenderloin
The Heritage Cook: Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (Gluten-Free)
Napa Farmhouse 1885: BBQ Pork Ribs
Red or Green: BBQ Salmon with Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze and Marinated Tomatoes
Domesticate Me: Fiery Barbecue Flank Steak Tacos with "Summer Mess" Salsa
Devour: 5 BBQ Sandwiches
In Jennie's Kitchen: Ginger-Soy Marinated Flank Steak
FN Dish: The Beauties of Barbecue


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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mom's Potato Salad (the best ever!)

This potato salad is my all time favorite...and I mean that literally. My mom has been making this my entire life and, to me, no other version ever measures up.  My mom made a few edits to my grandmother's recipe (like adding the pickle juice) and a great recipe became a superstar.

I think part of the reason I love this salad is the freshness of the ingredients. We usually make it in summer using freshly dug up potatoes and onions with celery from the garden. The creamy dressing of mayonnaise married with extra virgin olive oil, mustard and pickle juice is creamy, smooth and tangy at the same time. Delicious and easy.
Sunday dinner in summer...ham, potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans

The other reason I love this salad is every time I taste it I am immediately reminded of family parties...and lazy, warm summer days...and the beach, or park, or my parent's backyard. But most especially being with family and friends. I visited my family last month and we had a big get-together for Sunday dinner. My mom is not able to do a lot of cooking anymore, but that does not stop her from planning the menu and inviting everyone in sight. We decided we had to have potato salad so I made it under her direction. I followed her instructions with measurements, chopping and gathering the ingredients. She stirred the salad and was the official taster.  Great party, even better memories. Cooking with my mom...dinner with my entire family. It just does not get better than that.
Even this butterfly bowl has memories. Has been in my family my entire life.

Mom's Potato Salad (the best ever!)
(serves 6-8) can be doubled, tripled etc

3 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp kosher pickle juice
1/4 cup chopped kosher pickles
1/2 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 tbsp paprika
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Add the potatoes and a large pinch of salt to a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, olive oil, mustard, pickle juice, pickles and a large pinch each salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cut the potatoes into quarters and add to the bowl with the mayo dressing.. Add the celery, red onion and olives. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Top salad with sliced eggs, paprika and celery leaves. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. 

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It is "Potato Salad" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup. Have a favorite potato salad recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Chez Us: Baked Potato Salad
The Heritage Cook: French Potato Salad with Haricot Vert (Gluten-Free)
Weelicious: Blue and White Potato Salad
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Mom's Potato Salad (the Best Ever!)
Red or Green: Spicy Potato Salad with Jalapeno and Vinegar Vinaigrette
Feed Me Phoebe: Healthy Greek Potato Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Creamy Potato Salad with Mint
In Jennie's Kitchen: Warm Smashed Roasted Potato Salad
FN Dish: 10 New Ways to Do Up Potato Salad

Domesticate Me: Warm Roasted Potato Salad with Pancetta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Arugula


I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.